Kangaroo Island’s marine environment is unique and complex. It is influenced by the warm Leeuwin current flowing from the west and by the cold Flinders current flowing from the south east. Habitats vary from shallow rocky reefs battered by Southern Ocean swells, to protected bays harbouring seagrass meadows that shelter nursery areas for small fish.
Strong tidal currents in Backstairs Passage have scoured a deep trench in the seabed where rare, giant sponges grow; estuarine saltmarshes and tidal mudflats provide feeding grounds for shorebirds; and an upwelling off the southwest coast brings sunken nutrients to the surface, generating blooms of plankton that fuel a food web supporting fish, shellfish, seabirds and marine mammals.
As a result, the coastal waters around Kangaroo Island are home to an important and diverse mixture of temperate and subtropical marine species. They provide locals and visitors with opportunities for recreation and also support the local economy through tourism, aquaculture and commercial fishing.
Scientists have said that the diversity of life found here is likely to be equal to or greater than that found at the Great Barrier Reef.
To conserve the astonishing marine biodiversity found around Kangaroo Island and in other parts of South Australia, 19 marine parks have been established covering 44% of state waters. Designed to include examples of all known marine ecosystems and habitats, these parks conserve site dependent species and maintain ecological connections for species that move between habitats at different stages of their life cycles. Four of these marine parks can be found around Kangaroo Island, helping to ensure increased protection to approximately two-thirds of the island’s waters.
A multiple-use zoning scheme for each marine park provides for varying levels of conservation, while allowing most types of recreational and commercial use. Significant effort was made to avoid placing high protection zones in heavily used areas in order to minimise negative impacts on industries and community uses.
“No take” sanctuary zones protect areas of high conservation value where natural ecological processes are allowed to continue without interference from humans. While no forms of fishing are allowed in sanctuary zones, low impact recreational activities like snorkelling, surfing and swimming are welcome.
The following table summarises the allowable activities in the marine parks around Kangaroo Island:
Further information on marine parks, including detailed maps and GPS coordinates can be downloaded from our website: www.marineparks.sa.gov.au
Why not take the time to explore these areas by collecting a copy of the marine parks activities brochure
For more information about Kangaroo Island marine parks, download the Parks of Kangaroo Island guide or visit the Kangaroo Island’s marine parks website.